Inspiration For Your Journey
Welcome to Recovery Road, a new podcast from Hazelden Publishing. Here you'll find powerful thoughts, excerpts, and reflections from our most popular resources. These are the words, insights, and realizations from best-selling authors who have helped millions conquer substance abuse disorder. Now more than ever we need to find calm in the chaos, stay focused on self-care, and commit to long-term recovery. You are not alone. We are in this together. Join us on Recovery Road.
Self-care, Self Worth, We are allowed to experience life.
Those of us in recovery came to know the life-or-death value of having at least one person who knows us through and through—and cares about us anyway. In this excerpt from his book, A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps, Patrick Carnes focuses our attention on the vulnerability and trust inherent to the Fifth Step. Listen.
Transformation, Reminders, Coping, and Supporting.
No one has been spared from loss or grieving this year, especially those of us in recovery who may also be experiencing the loss of our former coping mechanism, substance use. In his book Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss, Earl Hipp tells us all about grief and what we can do to work through it while sustaining our sobriety. Listen.
In her book, Sane, Marya Hornbacher explores how Step Seven, particularly after working all the steps before it, offers us the opportunity to see our own transformation: what we were before, while looking ahead to what we can become next. We can become something completely new—or something we already were, but couldn't see, because of our addiction. Listen.
As we get closer to the holiday season, it's time to reflect on how those of us in recovery can be of service to others. In Three Simple Rules: Uncomplicating Life in Recovery, author Michael Graubart tells us about helping others, but making sure we're offering "helpful help," rather than "unhelpful help." Listen.
Jennifer Storm, in her book Awakening Blackout Girl: A Survivor's Guide for Healing from Addiction and Sexual Trauma, brings us along on her journey through trauma and recovery, showing us how shame has shaped her experiences through it all—and still today. She reminds us that though we will make mistakes and need to make amends again and again in life, we don't have to let shame control us. Listen.
As we think of the holidays, there's quite a bit we might need to cope with: health, boundaries, family issues, beverage and menu choices, and so much more. Here's a mini-course for coping with confidence from the book, Of Course You're Angry: A Guide to Dealing with the Emotions of Substance Abuse, by Gayle Rosellini and Mark Worden. Listen.
Ten years after it was first published, Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, gives us advice that is particularly relevant this year—especially as we get close to winter. Here are her thoughts on fear of the dark and scarcity, as they get in the way of our gratitude and joy in these challenging times. Listen.
The holidays are coming up and many of us will be feeling loss and grief this year, different from that felt in any other year. In his book Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss, Earl Hipp helps us see that we can help others through their grief, especially if we've already spent considerable time in The Hard Times. Listen.
Sandra Swenson, in her new book Just Dandy: Living with Heartache and Wishes, writes about the holidays and family from the perspective of a mother whose son struggles with addiction—and also as a person who also manages the other aspects of her life that can be just as hope-filled and heartbreaking. How do we do it? How can we be "just dandy" and mean it? Listen.
We don't need to wait for the New Year to make some goals. In fact, it's well-known that we need to have things in our lives to look forward to, and goals can be how we do that. All of us in recovery can take some notes from Melody Beattie in her book, Codependent No More, about how to find the joy in setting goals Listen.
Self-care, Humility, and Mindfullness helps us approach these trying times.
Sometimes the problem isn't the problem—the problem is how we cope with the problem. Sometimes, we need expert advice for how to cope with our problems as explained by Dr. Allen Berger in his book, 12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs Are Gone. Listen.
Humility helps us approach what we do with an open and curious mind, and no time is better to practice humility than today. Beverly Conyers, author of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, explains how humility will only serve us in our recovery. Listen.
Many of us are survivors, and many of us are facing recovery from not only a substance use perspective but also from a place of trauma. Jennifer Storm helps us examine our recovery—honestly—from both perspectives at the same time in Awakening Blackout Girl. Listen.
Melody Beattie wrote 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact: Meditations for Connecting with God, Self, and Others to help us remove what's in the way of our serenity. Here is Week 18, where Melody helps us with the concept "easy does it" so we can walk through recovery—challenges and all—one step at a time. Listen.
Whether we are essential workers, first responders, or health care providers or we live with people who face incredible circumstances on a daily basis, we need to know how to support ourselves and each other. Cynthia Orange helps us identify and manage stress and depression in this excerpt from Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD. Listen.
Autumn is here and we are living through unprecedented times. But let's never forget that while we've never been in this place before, others have gone before us, and they've had their own challenges and strife during their recovery. Marya Hornbacher, in this excerpt from Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power, weaves a story for us about her own experience in the world of the Spirit. Listen.
Beverly Conyers, author of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, just published Follow Your Light: A Guided Journal to Recover from Anything. Here are two exercises from the journal about forgiveness, something we can all examine a little more closely in ourselves in our recovery journeys. Listen.
In times of crisis and uncertainty, even healthy people and relationships will experience conflict.
As we kick off National Recovery Month during a pandemic, it's a good time to look at one of our most popular titles for advice about how to manage ourselves as we manage our recovery. Here's an excerpt from Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects by Bill P., Todd W., and Sara S. to help us act "as if" we can keep walking through our recovery by looking up to see the big picture and having faith that we can--and will--get to where we're going. Listen.
In times of stress and uncertainty, it's common to worry about relapse, either for yourself or someone you love. Extra anxiety, fueled by global, local, or even personal experience with the coronavirus pandemic, may lead people to cope in all kinds of unhealthy ways. In this excerpt from Destination Joy: Moving Beyond Fear, Loss, and Trauma in Recovery, Earnie Larsen reminds us that avoiding relapse depends on our willingness to "face what is chasing us." Listen.
While right and wrong can sometimes be clearly defined, much of the time we wrestle with competing perspectives and pressures in order to do the next right thing. In Finding Your Moral Compass: Transformative Principles to Guide You in Recovery and Life, Craig Nakken offers tools for discovering options and making choices. In this excerpt, we explore the tension between chaos and discipline--a timely topic during the coronavirus pandemic, when chaos seems all too present. Listen.
In times of crisis and uncertainty, even healthy people and relationships will experience conflict. With insights from neuroscience as well as her own recovery, Cynthia Moreno Tuohy's book, Rein In Your Brain: From Impulsivity to thoughtful Living in Recovery, opens the door to a whole new way to think about thinking--especially when the emotional stakes are high. Listen.
In this time of distancing and isolation during the pandemic, we can learn from how people handle panic, anxiety, and agoraphobia. This excerpt from Embracing the Fear: Learning to Manage Anxiety & Panic Attacks by Judith Bemis and Amr Barrada can teach us how fear can be useful to us in our recovery. Listen.
There's a lot to be angry about these days. The coronavirus pandemic has affected our jobs, our health, and our families; recovery can feel harder to maintain. In this excerpt from their brief book, Of Course You're Angry: A Guide to Dealing with the Emotions of Substance Abuse, Gayle Rosellini and Mark Worden call us to examine self-pity as a destructive form of unhealthy anger, and point a way past it. Listen.
In this excerpt from his book, A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps, Dr. Patrick Carnes outlines insights on addiction and healing from current brain science and invites us to embrace our recovery as a lifelong creative emotional, physical, and spiritual process of healing and growth. Listen.
How are you feeling? It's a common enough question--especially in these days of the coronavirus pandemic. But not everybody knows how to answer it. In this excerpt from Feed Your Head: Some Excellent Stuff on Being Yourself, Earl Hipp describes how an emotional vocabulary can help us tolerate and talk about the intensity and discomfort that come with big feelings. Listen.
In times of stress and uncertainty, it's common to worry.
What is the role of acceptance during the coronavirus pandemic? When we're anxious or isolated, serenity can feel even more distant than usual. In 12 Stupid?Things That Mess Up Recovery, Dr. Allen Berger gently but firmly roots us in the reality that life is hard and always will be. We get to control only what we can: our response to this reality. Dr. Berger uses the term "stupid" to describe self-destructive thought patterns and actions that can undercut our health and sanity and derail recovery. Listen.
Living in a time of pandemic-related isolation and uncertainty invites us to care for ourselves and others in new ways. In his book, Three Simple Rules: Uncomplicating Life in Recovery, author Michael Graubart makes the case that truly enjoyable, fruitful, spiritual, meaningful, and sober lives come from living by three simple rules: Trust God. Clean house. Help others. Listen.
Much of what we have been focusing on from the start of this pandemic is how it affects us negatively. How social and physical distancing is hard for people in recovery, how stakes are higher, how life is literally in the bounds. And also, if we were to look at this from a dialectical behavioral standpoint with the "and" instead of the "but," it's giving us some time to stay in and focus on ourselves, our relationships, our lives, and our futures. In Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine, she tells us about how boundaries are particularly important for people with substance use disorders and compulsive thoughts and behaviors. Listen.
We are under so much stress. We're snapping at each other, we're worried about each other. We are living in unfamiliar times and conditions, not getting out as much as we used to, and we're reacting to each other and our situations in ways that aren't our usual reactions. Or are they? Some of us have relationships with people that could be considered codependent. Years ago, in Codependent No More, Melody Beattie gave us this term as meaning: "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." Listen.
What's happened in the recovery community since the start of the COVID-19 crisis? It has continued. It's pivoted. It's moved online. It has been a beacon of hope to so many. It has sustained itself through groups, treatment centers, virtual outpatient services, and online meetings. Video, phone, email, texting--people have stayed connected. Because, as A.J. Adams says in Undrunk: A Skeptic's Guide to AA, there is no recovery alone. Whether or not it's your substance or style, one of the ideas that works for recovery is finding someone who's gone before you. Listen.
We all have our own reasons for why we drank or used or did whatever we did to numb ourselves. We escaped, we hid. But what can we do now that we're in recovery? How can we capture some of that high without substances? This is something each one of us has to answer for ourselves, but we can get a little help from Jodie Gould in High: Six Principles for Guilt-Free Pleasure and Escape. She offers us many ideas, some of which (like travel) aren't options during the global pandemic, but art therapy is definitely within our reach. Take her tips, grab a notebook and pencil, and go away. Escape. Enjoy. Listen.
As many workplaces and schools have moved to telework and remote learning due to the coronavirus, many of us are spending hours each day looking at screens, sometimes compulsively scrolling or watching--looking for news or entertainment or distraction or connection. Like food addictions and eating disorders, online and cyber addictions involve inescapable aspects of daily life. In this excerpt from his book, Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap, Roberts reminds all of us what these red flags can look like. Listen.
In his book, A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps, Dr. Patrick Carnes teaches that recovery's process of healing and growth will be sustained not by control but by trust. In this excerpt, Dr. Carnes invites us to reflect on a time in our life when we survived--and even thrived--through a leap of faith. Listen.
It's impossible to have a problem-free life. The global effects of coronavirus have underscored this reality. Written originally for young people Earl Hipp's book, Feed Your Head: Some Excellent Stuff on Being Yourself, offers specific ways to access calm and stay in touch, even when the storms are raging. Listen.
Maintaining a healthy recovery during a worldwide pandemic can be hard work.
The idea of getting high and seeking pleasure takes on a whole different spin in recovery. Especially during the pandemic. We can't go outside as much as we normally would, we might be alone as we stay physically distant from others, and we are likely more stressed than usual. So, when Jodie Gould recommends sleep and massage as part of the Pleasure Principle of restoring ourselves in her book High: Six Principles for Guilt-Free Pleasure and Escape, we relish the opportunity to take a breather and just relax. Listen.
Maintaining a healthy recovery during a worldwide pandemic can be hard work. In addition to keeping connected to our support systems and staying away from opportunities to use, we also need to continue the spiritual work of humble and honest self-evaluation. Author Allen Berger can help. In his book, 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery, Dr. Berger uses the term "stupid" to indicate the self-destructive things we do, that can undercut our health and sanity. In this excerpt, he illustrates how confusing selfishness with self-concern prevents us from acting on our own behalf. Self-concern is not selfishness! Learning to honor and care for ourselves is a hallmark of recovery. Listen.
Right now, we are all being affected by many things we can't control. We can't control our immune system, we can't control our elected officials, and we can't control the other members of our household. We also know we can't control the disease of addiction. So, let's turn our attention to one of the only things we can control: our thoughts and feelings about ourselves. Today we'll walk through two exercises from the new guided journal by Barbara Theodosiou, Living Without Shame: A Support Book for Mothers with Addicted Children. Although this support book is designed for mothers, these exercises can be helpful for anyone who feels a little (or a lot) overwhelmed right now. You can download print-outs of these exercises found on this post at www.Hazelden.org, or just answer the questions in a notebook or journal. Listen.
Crisis and stress can bring out the best and the worst of ourselves. In this time of coronavirus concern, you may be feeling stuck and powerless. If you're comparing yourself to some of the heroic and superhuman social media stories about pandemic productivity, and "making the most" of quarantine, perhaps you're wondering what's wrong with you. Authors Ronald and Patricia Potter-Efron describe shame as, "A painful belief in one's basic defectiveness as a human being." If some version of this belief and its pain are part of your life, you know that shame is powerful, and it affects the way you think, feel, and act toward yourself and others. In this excerpt from their book Letting Go of Shame: Understanding How Shame Affects Your Life, the Potter-Efrons help us consider our shame as a messenger or teacher, with a role to play in our lives. They also provide a framework for taking away shame's destructive power by affirming our basic humanity, humility, autonomy, and competence. Listen.
There are many reasons we might be feeling anxious or depressed these days. Having tried all kinds of unhelpful and unhealthy responses to feelings that seem overwhelming, those of us in recovery have certain practices and strategies that help us notice and navigate negativity, and we're usually looking for more. As an antidote to anxiety, author in recovery Kevin Roberts recommends the depression-defying gift of gratitude. In his book. Cyber Junkie: escaping the Gaming and Internet Trap, Roberts describes his own first attempts at keeping a gratitude journal, and how this simple daily practice became an essential part of his recovery. Listen.
Feelings are what make us human. They happen whether or not we acknowledge them. Denying that we feel angry, sad, scared, or any other way sets us up for bigger problems later, as unrelieved emotions build and build until something breaks or explodes. Written originally for young people, this excerpt from Earl Hipp's book, Feed Your Head: Some Excellent Stuff on Being Yourself, is a timely reminder, in these anxiety-producing days of coronavirus pandemic, about the gifts of appropriate and articulate anger. Listen.
The Serenity Prayer teaches us to accept the things we cannot change. One of those basic things we cannot change is that, sometimes, we suffer. Right now, with COVID-19 in our midst, we are suffering. We are mourning. We are wondering so much. We are ever aware of how fragile life can be. But, in other ways and to lesser degrees, we are in pain having lost jobs, contact with others, and security. We can accept that we cannot change suffering, but how do we cope with it? How can we lessen it? Listen.
You might agree with the statement, "Nothing feels better than feeling bad." Misery loves company, and we love to be loved. We stew in it. We soak in it until our fingers get pruney. Why? In some of us, the neurochemicals associated with negative emotions trip the reward centers of our brains and we become addicted to unhappiness (along with whatever other substances or behaviors have learned this trick). Now, we tend to be swimming in worry, fear, anger, and uncertainty due to the pandemic--which isn't helpful as we're already working hard on ourselves in our recovery. Listen.
A little anxiety can propel you through a happy, successful life, like a motor on a boat. But too much anxiety is a bad thing--even if it's just a little too much. Being "almost" anxious limits your ability to pursue your interests and risk new experiences. This, in turn, drags down your quality of life and well-being. In this era of coronavirus, it's helpful to revisit three essentials in the anti-anxiety toolbox. Listen.
There are, of course, plenty of things we can't control right now, but we can try to manage our responses to what's happening.
Many of us are grieving right now. Losing your job, losing your old way of life, or losing the ability to see and hug your friends and family are all different kinds of grief. Author Barbara Theodosiou lost her son Daniel to the disease of addiction in 2015. We hope this excerpt shows you that you are not alone in your grief, and while we grieve, we cannot lose ourselves. Listen.
A lot of creative people, whether making art for a living or for the pleasure it brings to life, are being put to the test. They may struggle with feelings that their work isn't "essential." Stress and worry may be blocking creativity, causing an additional crisis of identity. These feelings may even remind people of the worst days of their addiction. So, let's turn to this excerpt from Jennifer Matesa's book The Recovering Body. Here, Matesa reminds us of the importance of creative work in our darkest moments, and reassures us that our moments of creative blockage and self-doubt will pass. Listen.
No doubt about it, this is a stressful time. Especially for those of us trying to maintain our recovery. There's plenty of negativity everywhere we look, but the truth is, the most negative statements we hear are often the things we tell ourselves. In this excerpt from Three Simple Rules: Uncomplicating Life in Recovery, author Michael Graubart gives his advice on how to silence all of that negativity flying around in our heads. Listen.
If you've got a kid who's working through a substance use disorder, create a home where you set the boundaries. You are older, smarter, and more experienced than your child. You are the parent. It's your house. And, according to Dr. Joseph Lee in his book Recovering My Kid, your house is not a democracy. This excerpt has been edited for brevity. Listen.
In her book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, Anne Katherine show us how each challenge is an opportunity to assert who we are, and what we truly need to live happy, healthy lives. In this excerpt, Katherine reviews the basics of emotional boundaries, and how we can tell if our boundaries may need some attention. Listen.
As parents or caregivers, it can seem impossible to even consider taking a break for self-care. But, as author Rosemary O'Connor explains, it's not only beneficial to show yourself some compassion, it's necessary. This excerpt from A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery provides a much-needed reality check on why we let ourselves get so exhausted, and what we can do about it. Listen.
There are, of course, plenty of things we can't control right now, but we can try to manage our responses to what's happening, and work to reduce the stress we carry. One technique we can try is meditation. If this practice hasn't seemed to be your thing, you're not alone. Author Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart has some insights that might help. In this excerpt from her book A Kinder Voice: Releasing Your Inner Critics with Mindfulness Slogans, Jacobs-Stewart offers this paradox: meditation will work much better for us when we stop trying so hard. Listen.
For those of us who walk in the worlds of both mental illness and addiction, it's important to think about what Step 3 means for our need to make things work according to our will, especially with the coronavirus in our midst. Here, in her book Sane, Marya Hornbacher recounts part of her recovery journey, and shares some wisdom about the illusion of self-control and the concept of surrender. Listen.
In her book The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober, author Jennifer Matesa introduces us to somebody who greatly improved her own meditation and mindfulness practice: a dog named Flo. We hope this story acts as a reminder that we all have sources of peace and joy during the pandemic, possibly right under our noses. Listen.
While we're all going through this time of collective crisis, let's revisit the basics.
The practice of mindfulness can help change our perspective and provide much-needed peace of mind. Beverly Conyers, author of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, offers five mindful ways to tame your anxiety and nurture your overall well-being. Listen.
While we're all going through this time of collective crisis, let's revisit the basics of shame: what it is, why it hurts, and what we can do about it. To help us out, we're turning to one of the world's top experts on shame, Brené Brown, with this excerpt from her book The Gifts of Imperfection. Listen.
The COVID-19 pandemic is turning everyone's lives upside down. Grandparents may need to step in and care for grandchildren, if their adult children are struggling. It might be for a little while, the duration of the pandemic, or longer. It might be permanent. The Grandfamily Guidebook: Wisdom and Support for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, offers some tips. Listen.
Recovery calls us to serve others--and people who are caregivers during this health crisis need someone to listen to them. So, let's reach out. Call each other. Get on Skype or FaceTime. Ask friends how they're doing...and listen. We can't offer a hug right now, but we can offer an ear...and a heart. You and your recovery will be better for it. Here are some tips for supporting each other. Listen.
This is a time of change for all of us. Some changes are bigger than others, but all major changes require us to grieve what was lost. In this excerpt from her book The Grief Club: The Secret to Getting Through All Kinds of Change, renowned author Melody Beattie explores the comfort that comes from knowing that others can have compassion for what we're experiencing. Listen.
Many of us are used to numbing our feelings and checking out, by way of substance use or other process addictions. Feeling our emotions is new to us and scary. How do we do this? How do we withstand it? By facing it. By using mindfulness to help us become grounded in where we are at this moment. Author Beverly Conyers offers advice. Listen.
Whether we've been working the Twelve Steps for a while, or are new to them, we're experiencing a time like no other during this global pandemic. We're finding new ways to maintain our recovery, so we don't destroy all that we've worked so hard to build. We don't have to go through this alone. Here are some thoughts from Fred H. about emotions and Step 10 in Drop the Rock--The Ripple Effect. Listen.
Parents are supporting their children around the clock while trying to also put in a productive workday from home. We're all managing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a time of stress--and adding in those of our children makes life all the more difficult. Whether you've got kids at home or not, here is an excerpt from Sober Dad: The Manual for Perfectly Imperfect Parenting by Michael Graubart that gives us a little perspective into how we might best manage it all. Listen.
For those of us who balance both mental illness and substance use disorders, it's hard to find our footing during a global pandemic. Marya Hornbacher, in her book Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps writes about the Sixth Step in Twelve Step programs: the willingness to have God [or our Higher Power] remove our defects of character. Listen.
Life and Trauma: Ask for, and Accept, Help
May 18, 2020
We all need some help right now. Every one of us is dealing with a situation that we were not prepared for. In this excerpt from Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD, Cynthia Orange teaches us how to ask for help, how to best offer help to others, and how to make our crisis-filled days a little bit more predictable. Listen.
Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with a substance use disorder is particularly challenging. Parenting a child with a substance use disorder during the pandemic involves new levels of difficulty. What can we do with negative feelings? Speak them aloud. Own them as yours. Give them their space. Dr. Joseph Lee, in his book Recovering My Kid, coaches us all through the everyday work of taking out our emotional trash. Listen.
For many of us, realities such as physical distancing requirements have stirred up feelings of isolation and even darkness. In the words of author Marya Hornbacher, this is a period of descent. As Hornbacher explains in this excerpt from Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power, if we return to Step One, the root of the Twelve Step program, we can find the meaning and value in even our lowest moments. Listen.
Many grandparents find themselves parenting their grandchildren. This can happen when their own kids struggle with substance use disorders, incarceration, mental illness, and other problems. As we continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, grandparents may have to step into a new role. It can feel overwhelming. Help is available, but first you need to know that you need it. Here are some signs that you need help. Listen.
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient treatment for adults and youth, the Foundation has 17 locations nationwide and collaborates with an expansive network throughout health care. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction.